A week ago I was in San Diego aka Heaven on Earth! Last Friday I reported on an excellent dinner at Monello. I did not, however, share the fact that we had weekend guests who arrived, young and hungry, at about 10 p.m. And what do hosts do for young and hungry guests who arrive at 10 p.m. on a Friday night? Feed them!
We walked over to Basic, located in the East Village across the street, almost, from Petco Park’s right field fence. I found Basic years ago, and rarely do I present myself in San Diego without dropping by. (Pictures taken earlier in the week. It’s not sunny at 10:30 p.m., even in San Diego.)
Here, from A Life At Fifty-Ish, is my recounting of my first visit to Basic. I was almost 50 at the time. I’m older now!
A Boomer and two Gen-Xers walk into a bar. (True story, BTW. The bar is Basic, in the East Village in San Diego, and it’s worth a visit for the pizza. Primo!)
“What do you do,” ask the Gen-Xers.
“I’m a lawyer. You?”
“We’re starting an extreme sports business. (I think they were talking about ZORB®.) We put people inside a rubber ball, which is inside another rubber ball, and roll them down a hill.”
How old is 50? Too old to comprehend the notion of a person paying money to get inside a rubber ball, inside another rubber ball, and roll down a hill. (Not fully understanding where the person fits into the “two ball” contraption, the Boomer asks a question that reflects his belief that the person rolls down the hill between the two balls. “Dude,” says one of the Gen-Xers, “that could really hurt someone.”) Young enough, though, to be thoroughly amused by the notion of someone making money off of people who climb into a rubber ball, inside another rubber ball, and roll down a hill. And even young enough to think that it might be fun to try … but only after getting a permission slip from a doctor!
Basic is a bar and pizza place in an old carriage factory. (The apartment I use in San Diego is part of a structure that was, once, a soap factory.) It’s two-thirds bar and one-third restaurant … and all loud, especially at 10:30 on a Friday night.
Basic falls into the upscale dive bar category. Not fancy, but clean and safe. Fine drinks, too! A martini worth stopping by for, even if pizza is not in the mix, and a list of fair-priced, good quality reds and whites. The beer selection seems alright too, although it’s not super broad: six beers on tap; five can choices; and a baker’s dozen of bottles.
The menu is small. One salad choice. Two pizza sizes, called small and large, which are really large and very, very big. Red or white, cheese or no cheese, and lots of ingredients, including meatballs, clams, mashed potatoes, and cherry peppers.
The young people ate, and I helped a bit. (I’d finished dinner by 8:15, and worked up a powerful hunger walking 12 short—very short—blocks.) The salad includes organic greens, sliced pears, candied walnuts, and gorgonzola. (Gorgonzola on the side, as we had a vegan among us.)
The pizza included sauce, broccoli, spinach, and fried eggplant. No cheese, again because of the vegan thing. Delicious, and this was the small size. I’m told the style is New Haven pizza, with a thin but stretchy crust and the sort of char that comes from a coal oven. Stronger than anything I’ve ever had from Grimaldi’s or Oregano’s, both of which make similar pies. No doubt, a cheesy pie with clams provides a better exemplar of the style, but this pie worked well, and not having lots of fat in my system at 11 p.m. did not bother me one bit!
Basic has become a family favorite! Rarely does anyone in my clan visit San Diego without dropping by Basic.
P.S. Pesach/Passover is upon us, starting Monday at sundown. I am moderately strict about skipping leavened products. The ritual lasts eight days, and the list of “no go” food items includes beans, rice and grains that, while not leavened, cannot be eaten. (Don’t ask, or ask one of my law partners, who actually knows the answers!)
So anyway, Sunday night will be homemade pizza night, as I get my fill of flour. (Ms. J, not Jewish, passes on the Passover denial ritual.) Look for pics and some links, as I try to “step it up” on the pizza-making front.